Welsh emigration to the United States: a note on surname evidence DAVID THOMAS Professor and Head of the Department of Geography, University of Birmingham. (Received November 1977: in revised form April 1978) Abstract This paper seeks to explain why the strong standing and widespread distribution of Welsh surnames in the United States today is at variance with the conventional view of the Welsh in the United States. It is argued that the influence of the early migrants and their progeny in forming the basic population stock of the United States has been underestimated. Introductíon The movement of population from Wales to the United States is fairly well documented for the period since 1800 (for example, Conway, 1961; Ellis, 1961; Hartmann, 1967; Williams, D., 1933-5, 1935-7; Williams, D., 1946; Williams, G., 1976). Statistics, though not always reliable (they tend to understate the Welsh who were sometimes classified as English), became available from the 1820's and these reveal a swelling stream of emigrants, encouraged by poor economic and social conditions at home and the prospect of a fair, prosperous, and just society in the new republic. The flow reached its peak in the 1880's, when over 100,000 Welsh-born were resident in the United States, but even at the height of the movement, numbers were small compared with those from other European countries, and they rapidly became absolutely and relatively smaller (figure 1). In 1890 Welsh- born composed only 1 per cent of the total foreign born population; the 100,000 Welsh have to be set against nearly two million Irish and approaching three million Germans. In that census year there were more Americans born in Switzerland and in Denmark than in Wales. The accounts relating to these emigrants tend, quite naturally, to focus upon the more or less organised groups (who often had a mini- ster or other person to act as their historian) and to concentrate upon the areas of major settlement in the northeast and midwest princip- ally in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa (figure 2). It was in these areas that the Welsh maintained their identity longest, formed Welsh communities, and established societ- ies to sustain their traditions. Because of their origins, and their polit- ical and religous convictions, they tended to be egalitarian (for